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3/6 shoot last Dragons, prepare for Javelins

By Cpl. Allan J. Grdovich | | November 17, 2000

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Marines of 3d Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment fired the last of the soon to be replaced M47 Dragon missiles here at Hadnot Point Range Nov 17. The wire-guided M47 Dragons, used primarily as an anti-tank weapon, will be replaced by the laser guided Javelin. The Marines fired the last of their shoulder-mounted M47 Dragons downrange at inoperable tanks. The last round spent marked the end of an era for the weapon, which has been used since the Vietnam conflict. Similar to the AT-4, the M47 Dragon is a shoulder-mounted weapon with a maximum effective killing range of 1,100 meters, said Lance Cpl. Ryan Ramsayer, Dragon Gunner for 3d Bn., 6th Marines. "Since the weapon is wire-guided, the person firing it must guide the round through his scope until it makes impact with the intended target," said Ramsayer, from Benmidgi, Minn. It takes 11 seconds for the round of an M47 Dragon to travel 1,100 yards. One disadvantage of this is the person firing may be exposed to incoming rounds while guiding the missile to the target, said Ramsayer. The Dragon is a reliable weapon, but the new Javelin will be more up-to-date, said Sgt. Sean Pettet, Dragons platoon sergeant for 3d Bn., 6th Marines. According to Pettet, who is from Eldens, Mo., battlefields of today have changed since the introduction of the M47 Dragon and many of today's tanks have counter-measures against guided missiles. Nomenclature and looks of the Javelin will be similar to the M47 Dragons; the prime exceptions will be the Javelin's laser-guided missile and 2,000-meter maximum effective killing range, said Lance Cpl. Scott Bender, Dragon gunner for 3d Bn., 6th Marines. "The advantage of the laser-guided Javelin's will give Marines the ability to fire and take immediate cover unlike the M47 Dragon where the Marine must wait to guide the round to the intended target," said Pettet. At 5:30 p.m. Thursday, the last of 3d Bn., 6th Marines' 83-mm M47 Dragon rounds were fired as the cool November nightfall set here. "It's the end of our Dragons, we all can't wait to get familiar with our new toys," said an excited Bender speaking of the Javelins.
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